It Is What it Is


Devotion:  Exodus 3:14

While walking at Concord Mills Mall, my husband and I passed a girl wearing a shirt with the statement, “It is what it is.”.  I laughed and told her, “I like your shirt.”  She smiled and said, “Thank you.”

       What makes someone say; “It is what it is.”?

Is there truth behind that statement?  The (it) in that statement; is different in everyone’s life.  What is the thing in your life that never seems to change?  Do we make this statement when we come to accept the (it); or do we say it only when we feel hopeless and helpless?

I secretly wondered how many people have made that statement over the course of time and who first made it?

I discovered the following; regarding this overused cliche.

“You are not alone if you are wondering who should be attributed as the author of the quotation “It is what it is.” We may not know its origin; but, by looking at the quotation in context, we can tell what it means – When there is a situation that you cannot change, what else can you really say?  

“It Is What It Is”: Origin of the Phrase

Looking at where the quotation “It is what it is” comes from is somewhat of a mystery. No one really knows the exact origin. That might seem hard to believe, since we can track many quotations down to their starting point.

Theories of Who Coined the Phrase

Although the true origin of “It is what it is” might never be determined, there are at least a few theories as to where this interesting quotation comes from:


There is a huge usage of the quotation in sports, whether it is by a broadcaster or a team member who is being interviewed. The reasons for the major usage of it in sports could be multifaceted.

  • Interviewees might use it in order to avoid dodging difficult questions about the performance of a troublesome teammate on the field, or an incident that occurred outside of the game.
  • Suggestions abound that either John Fox or Bill Belicheck started the phrase. However, when we look back in history, we will see that this phrase has actually been used before.

Of course, sports have been a major reason why the phrase is used so commonly in modern times.


In 2002, Al Gore used this phrase. Gore announced,

“I strongly disagreed with the Supreme Court decision and the way in which they interpreted and applied the law. But I respect the rule of the law, so it is what it is.”

1980 Book

In 1980 Russell Hoban published his novel Riddley Walker. The phrase appears numerous times in the writing. Without giving away any of the details of this novel, suffice it to say that for a character to lament that “It is what it is” in this novel is truly an important part to pick up on.

1949 Newspaper Reference

We might never know the real origin of the phrase. However, the farthest back that we can trace it is to 1949, according to the New York Times. In a column written by J. E. Lawrence in the Nebraska State Journal in 1949, the phrase appears:

“New land is harsh, and vigorous, and sturdy. It scorns evidence of weakness. There is nothing of sham or hypocrisy in it. It is what it is, without an apology.”

Have we found our true answer? The only real answer is that we may never know!”

Would God say, “It is what it is.”?  No, He says, “I am who I am.”  

He is the great I Am in the midst of your “what is.”  Don’t lose heart.  The One who never changes longs to come into your “what is.”

Prayer in Motion:

Lord, help me remember You are the great I AM, while living in the “what is.”  I choose to trust You Jesus both now and always. I love You Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen



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